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Louisiana Cajuns/Cajuns de la Louisiane

Probably the biggest influence on me as an artist, and as a person for that matter, was being born and reared in south Louisiana. It was in a town near the Gulf of Mexico on the western edge of the Cajun area. My mother was Cajun, as were most of the people that I knew; but there was also a considerable mix of other cultures: Italians, Greeks, Poles, and Jews, among others. It was only after traveling to other states like Oklahoma, Colorado, and Wisconsin in my pre-teen years that I realized what a different world south Louisiana was.

II thought the rest of America would have a similar range of ethnic groups, local styles of music, vernacular architecture, etc. While I found some of these things in some of the places I visited, none possessed the diversity and range of south Louisiana.

 moved to California when I was twenty. During the numerous trips home that I made over the years I began to notice that some of the lifestyles and livelihoods that I had known as a child were beginning to disappear. In the early 70s Life Magazine did a photo essay on the Cajuns. They went to a cultural center and photographed women in traditional Acadian dresses from the 1700s, as well as landscapes and a traditional Cajun home. Not included, however, were the people: the trappers, crawfishermen, healers, and musicians that I had such a distinct memory of from my childhood.

With the help of a grant from the Sunflower Foundation I was able to return to Louisiana and begin documenting the rural Cajun lifestyle. The resulting images were exhibited nationally and gathered into a book: Louisiana Cajuns/Cajuns de La Louisiane.

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